Mesopotamian World The Reforms of Akhenaton and Amenhotep Analysis Paper •• Instructions ••• 1- in 500-750 words, answer the pertinent question and explor

Mesopotamian World The Reforms of Akhenaton and Amenhotep Analysis Paper •• Instructions •••

1- in 500-750 words, answer the pertinent question and explore the relevant topic. Defend any arguments you make using the source at hand.

2- Be certain to let me know within the introduction the argument you intend to follow.

3- Then, give evidence for your belief, analysis and interpretation of that evidence, and your conclusions.

••Paper layout•••

1- paper must be cited throughout.

2- You should do this in Chicago Style (author, title of source, publication date, and page number if you can find one) or by footnote[1].

••The Assignment•••

Read Mathisen’s account of Akhenaton (pp. 102-3) *attached* along the with the various views in (The West in Question Section 3) ** attached**.

Was Akhenaton a reformer and what does his reign show about Egyptian kingship?


you could use other sources beside the attached ones , if use other sources please mention them ,,

regards The Question: How did the Mesopotamians perceive the collapse period?
The Mesopotamian world seems to remember a widespread drought, and the title curse blames the
misfortune on the Akkadian episode. There is now evidence from regional soil deposits of severe climate
change ca 2200 BCE. The Indian monsoons that provided the majority of rains to feed the Nile River and
Mesopotamia never reached the mountain streams. Aridity caused soil erosion that deposited huge
amounts of dust in the atmosphere, possibly causing several cooler seasons. Thus, part of the answer to
regional political instability and collapse may lie in some sort of dramatic precipitation change across
Egypt and the Near East. The archaeology of the region shows an abandonment of what had been prime
farmland and large settlements, which might explain the grain shortages in the “Curse of Akkad”. If Ur
and other southern Mesopotamian cities were indeed suffering from drought-induced famine and soil
erosion, then certainly this helps to explain the stepped up competition for water and food, and the
stepped up nomadic attacks. A long and expensive wall makes sense, then, as an act of desperation.
Whatever the explanation, the relationship between climate, water and power would be the recurring
story of Mesopotamian history.
The brief Sumerian recovery from ca 2200-2050 BC centered at Ur was eventually be subsumed by
stronger powers to the north, principally Babylon and Assur. The region of northern Mesopotamia that
would become known as Assyria was a harsh, resource-poor land where agriculture was more difficult
than in the lands further down the rivers. To deal with the shortages the Assyrians became some of the
most successful merchants of the region, supporting long-distance trade contracts as far as Anatolia
(Turkey) and Iran. However, the Assyrians also supported an army to expand access to resources, a
mandate for so deeply ingrained into the Assyrian culture that the Assyrian kings were bound religiously
to make war and increase the kingdom. Further south, Babylonia and its conquests prospered under the
long rule of Hammurabi (1792-50), who is best remembered for authorizing the first known
comprehensive code designed to take the personal and property rights of various co-existent societies into
consideration. The code was also a reasoned attempt to keep order in a crowded and stratified
multicultural society. However, after 1600 these powers fell prey to new invasions, and remained
disorganized for almost 300 years.
Mesopotamian society was dynamic but unstable, as various states competed with one another for
the natural resources and land that kept the central power secure. Its approach to water issues, invasion
and interstate competition made the region very different from its powerful neighbor in Africa.
Section Three: The Nile, the Sun and Egypt

Whereas Mesopotamian myth reflected the uncertainties of the land, Egyptian creation myths and
gods centered on the nourishing silt left by the Nile floods that gave life every year to a stable world. The
Egyptian afterlife was a happy place that all Egyptians hoped for. Nonetheless, the Egyptians understood
the delicate balance between life and death that the annual flow and flooding of the croplands brought,
and its contribution to political stability. How did Egypt, which faced challenges of aridity as did
Mesopotamia, differ from its neighbor in its approach to society? Was Egyptian culture affected by its

“The flowering of early civilization in Egypt was the result of major transformations both in
socio-political and economic organization and ideology. That such transformations were successful in
the early Dynastic Period is truly remarkable, given that contemporaneous polities elsewhere in the Near
East were much smaller in territory and population. That this state as successful for a very long time – a
total of about 800 years until the end of the Old Kingdom – is in part due to the enormous potential of
cereal agriculture on the Nile floodplain, but it is also a result of Egyptian organizational skills and the
strongly developed institution of kingship.” (Kathryn Bard, “The Emergence of the Egyptian State” in B.
Shaw Oxford History of Egypt, 2000, p.82)
The Question: How did Egypt unify so quickly and with such stability?
Bard refers to the long stability of the early Egyptian state beginning around 2700 BCE. Kemp points out
that, unlike Mesopotamia, Egypt produced enough for its small population, and thus engendered less
conflict in state formation.

…the waters of the Nile could be spread further and more efficiently by the creation of a system of
irrigation and drainage canals…In building up a picture of ancient society it is necessary to consider how
far along this path of improvement the Egyptians went.

The answer appears to be: not very far at all. The need was not there…it has sometimes been
thought that organized society – civilization – in Egypt and elsewhere arose from the need for collective
effort to control rivers to allow agriculture to develop. In the case of ancient Egypt one can state that this
was not so..
Egypt is particularly interesting because…state formation seems to have taken place in the
absence of some of the more obvious factors. It is hard to imagine, for example, that in a land where
population was relatively small and natural resources so abundant competition for resources from sheer
necessity was a factor. It also strains the evidence needlessly to promote trade into a major force. Nor
was there an external military threat, and the conflicts that developed within the Nile valley in the period
leading up to the 1 Dynasty seem to have been amongst communities already well advanced along the
road to statehood…
“We can begin simply by imagining a board game of the ‘Monopoly’ kind. At the start we have a
number of players of roughly equal potential. They compete (to some extent unconsciously) by exchanges
of different commodities, and later more openly by conflict. The game proceeds by means of a
combination of chances (e.g. environmental or locational factors) and personal decisions…the game
inexorably follows a trajectory towards a critical point where one player has accumulated sufficient
assets to outweigh the threats posed by the other players and so becomes unstoppable” (Barry Kemp,
Ancient Egypt. London: Routledge, 1989, pp. 10-11, 31-2)
The Question: How did complex society develop in Egypt as compared to those in Mesopotamia?
Kemp suggests that Egyptian and Mesopotamian societies, despite being a river-dependent in an arid
land, conditions that describe Mesopotamia, reacted very differently. In Mesopotamia it was increasingly
difficult to water the fields and feed the growing population. On the other hand, the Nile river valley was
a greenbelt oasis, narrower but more intense in antiquity. Beyond the floodplain, the Egyptian cliffs and
deserts rapidly encroach, forming an arid brown backdrop to the intense colors of the valley itself. In the
fifth century BCE, Herodotus summed it up neatly, in a thesis that leaves little doubt how the ancient
world viewed the role of the natural environment in the shaping of Egyptian civilization.
For any one who sees Egypt, without having heard a word about it before, must perceive, if he
has only common powers of observation, that the Egypt to which the Greeks go in their ships is an
acquired country, the gift of the river…
Concerning the nature of the river, I was not able to gain any information either from the priests
or from others. I was particularly anxious to learn from them why the Nile, at the commencement of the
summer solstice, begins to rise, and continues to increase for a hundred days- and why, as soon as that
number is past, it forthwith retires and contracts its stream, continuing low during the whole of the winter
until the summer solstice comes round again. On none of these points could I obtain any explanation from
the inhabitants…,
Some of the Greeks, however, wishing to get a reputation for cleverness, have offered
explanations of the phenomena of the river, for which they have accounted in three different ways… One
pretends that the Etesian winds cause the rise of the river by preventing the Nile-water from running off
into the sea. But in the first place it has often happened, when the Etesian winds did not blow, that the
Nile has risen according to its usual wont; and further, if the Etesian winds produced the effect, the other
rivers which flow in a direction opposite to those winds ought to present the same phenomena as the Nile,
and the more so as they are all smaller streams, and have a weaker current….
The second opinion is even more unscientific than the one just mentioned, and also, if I may so
say, more marvellous. It is that the Nile acts so strangely, because it flows from the ocean, and that the
ocean flows all round the earth.
The third explanation, which is very much more plausible than either of the others, is positively
the furthest from the truth; for there is really nothing in what it says, any more than in the other theories.
It is, that the inundation of the Nile is caused by the melting of snows. Now, as the Nile flows out of Libya,
through Ethiopia, into Egypt, how is it possible that it can be formed of melted snow, running, as it does,
from the hottest regions of the world into cooler countries?.. If then, in the country whence the Nile has
its source, or in that through which it flows, there fell ever so little snow, it is absolutely impossible that
any of these circumstances could take place…
…I will therefore proceed to explain what I think to be the reason of the Nile’s swelling in the
summer time. During the winter, the sun is driven out of his usual course by the storms, and removes to
the upper parts of Libya. This is the whole secret in the fewest possible words; for it stands to reason that
the country to which the Sun-god approaches the nearest, and which he passes most directly over, will be
scantest of water, and that there the streams which feed the rivers will shrink the most. (Herodotus 2.5,
The Question: In the Greek view, how important was the Nile River to the development of Egyptian
civilization? Why did it appear so mysterious in its constancy?
Herodotus, like other travelers from antiquity to today, noted strong relationship between the fertility of
the Nile floodplain and the success of Egyptian society. Unlike Mesopotamia, a broad throughway for
peoples travelling west Asia, Egypt provided a very narrow north/south corridor of activity along the Nile
until one reached the Delta. To the south, an agricultural state based on cooperation and management of
the Nile emerged, which we call Upper Egypt because of its location on the upper reaches of the Nile. To
the north was Lower Egypt, where land was better watered along the Delta, and where trade with West
Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean brought in new goods and immigrants on a regular basis. The
Egyptian world was based on one’s place along the river:
Hail to thee, O Nile! Who manifests thyself over this land, and comes to give life to Egypt!
Mysterious is thy issuing forth from the darkness, on this day whereon it is celebrated! Watering the
orchards created by Re, to cause all the cattle to live, you give the earth to drink, inexhaustible one! Path
that descends from the sky, loving the bread of Seb and the first-fruits of Nepera, You cause the workshops
of Ptah to prosper!
Lord of the fish, during the inundation, no bird alights on the crops. You create the grain, you bring forth
the barley, assuring perpetuity to the temples. If you cease your toil and your work, then all that exists is
in anguish. If the gods suffer in heaven, then the faces of men waste away. …
The night remains silent, but all is changed by the inundation; it is a healing-balm for all mankind.
Establisher of justice! Mankind desires you, supplicating you to answer their prayers; You answer them
by the inundation…
Men exalt him like the cycle of the gods, they dread him who creates the heat, even him who has made his
son the universal master in order to give prosperity to Egypt. Come (and) prosper! Come (and) prosper!
O Nile, come (and) prosper! O you who make men to live through his flocks and his flocks through his
orchards! Come (and) prosper, come, O Nile, come (and) prosper! (Oliver J. Thatcher, ed., The Library of
Original Sources (Milwaukee: University Research Extension Co., 1907), Vol. I: The Ancient World, pp.
The Question: How did the Egyptians view the Nile?
The poem asserts a strong connection between the health of the river and the strength of Egyptian society.
By 3100 BCE Egypt had moved rather quickly into a central unified kingship with written records and
international connections. The introduction of writing and metals technology came so quickly that many
have suggested the ideas were acquired through east Mediterranean contacts.
[Picture 2.3: Examples of hieroglyphics.]
The Question: Compare hieroglyphics to cuneiform. What might cause the differences in the way the
characters were written?
Although hieroglyphics emerged as a pictographic solution to recording data, the script used
some syllabic symbols, reducing the number of common symbols to learn. Cuneiform had been an
economic tool of status, but Egyptians from an early period wrote literature that required some number of
a literate class, including women, to be able to read. Monuments and paper-like papyri were marked with
hieroglyphic, sometimes, engraved, sometimes painted. Neither style required abstracting the symbols as
in cuneiform. Thus the pictographic nature of hieroglyphics did not undergo a change as it did in
Mesopotamia, although for speed’s sake there was a more script-like form called hieretic.
Later Egyptian historians marked their history by approximately 30 dynasties of families,
although there is dispute over how accurate some of the dynasty lists are, as they were dictated to us by a
scholar of the Greek period. We then subdivide these dynasties into three Kingdoms, two intermediate
periods, a predynastic period and a post-Kingdom stage. Before Dynasty One we have regional kingdoms
with evidence of some powerful leaders who traded beyond Egypt, but little to no written identifiers as to
their names. However, the records suggest that one Menes (or perhaps Narmer) united the kingdoms of
Upper and Lower Egypt in the Predynastic period (3150-2700).
For many, the first thing that comes to mind when studying Egypt is the so-called mystery of the
Pyramids of the Old Kingdom (2700-2200 BCE). This is not surprising, given their size. However, most
writing about their construction and purpose has either disappeared or was never there in the first place.
Despite the popular theories, several have tried to explain the rationale behind the program in a way that
does not involve extraterrestrials. The simplest explanation seems to be that pyramid construction was a
matter of visible power over the Egyptian landscape. The Old Kingdom pharaohs, masters of a very
stable domain, required the Pyramids as a statement of unified power and stability. As the sun-god
physically expressed in a land mindful of the power of the sun, the pharaoh presided over the people, who
believed him to be merely resting on this world. Fortunately for the early pharaohs, the natural
environment surrounding the Nile allowed a strong and stable agrarian and riverine economy. As long as
the natural world and the river remained constant, the pharaoh’s godhood was secure. The pyramids
marking the tombs of the Old Kingdom pharaohs, the most stunning of which are found on the plateau of
Giza (just outside modern Cairo) were meant to attract attention. Cased in luminous limestone, brightly
painted, and topped with a dazzling gilded capstone, they drove home the point – the pharaoh was almost
The Pharaoh and the Land
The Old Kingdom declined rapidly after 2200, and the power of the pharaohs collapsed. The
disillusionment was linked to detrimental environmental change:
The Egyptians knew the Nile was the source of life. Their kings fostered the belief that they
controlled the mysterious inundation, the very fountain of human existence. The reality was quite the
reverse. Old Kingdom Egypt, with its scant rainfall but ambitious splendor, ultimately depended on the
Indian Ocean monsoons and the whims of the Southern Oscillation. In a state where village farming and
food supplies were decentralized and self-sustaining, those closest to the land held the key to the
pharaoh’s survival.
Scientists have long known that droughts in Egypt often coincide with dry conditions in India. In
1908 the Imperial Gazetteer of India reported that “it is now fully established that years of drought in
western or northwestern India are almost invariably years of low Nile flood. The relation is further
confirmed by the fact that years of heavier rain than usual in western India are also years of high Nile
The fragmentary record of Old Kingdom flood levels, from ancient lake levels in the Fayum
Depression west of the Nile and from pharaonic sources, tells us that Nile floods were exceptionally high
just as Egypt became a unified state in about 3000 B.C. There was a rapid decline during the First and
Second Dynasties, at which point court officials began recording flood levels with Nilometers and other
devices. (The Egyptians measured flood heights with markings on cliffs or with carved columns and
developed the art of flood prediction to a high pitch.) As the Old Kingdom reached the height of its glory,
Nile discharges continued to decline. A dry lake named Birket Qarun in the Fayum provides evidence for
extremely low flood levels after 2180 B.C. If the Egyptians of the day are to be believed, the subsequent
drought cycle was very severe indeed.
Few ancient leaders understood that their divinity was a pretense. Remote and despotic, the Old
Kingdom pharaohs considered themselves infallible masters of the Nile. When El Niño proved them
wrong with a generation of drought, their authority withered. Disillusioned local leaders and nomarchs,
with closer ties to the land, looked after their own people and ignored their divine ruler. The later Middle
Kingdom pharaohs, well aware of this lesson and themselves descended from nomarchs, never preached
infallibility…These pharaohs endured another eighteen centuries because they were realists, determined
that no drought would ever totally undermine what they had achieved. (Brian Fagan, Floods, Famines
and Emperors.Basic Books, 2000, pp. 127, 130, 301)
The Question: What is the danger when power is linked to environmental stability?
Fagan refers to evidence that the major climate pattern that we call El Niño was in full swing in 2200,
creating a regional drought even as it increased rainfall in the Indian Ocean. Thi…
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